Indiana women’s basketball saw its historic 2022-23 season end in heartbreak, with a bitterly narrow home loss to Miami in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Hoosiers were a No. 1 seed for the first time in program history, but fell short of reaching a third consecutive Sweet 16. And as the program gears up to avenge that disappointment and defend its Big Ten title, the players haven’t forgotten that feeling.
Senior guard Sydney Parrish, at IU’s media day, said she’s still not over it, and is using the sour memory as fuel for the upcoming season. Graduate student forward Mackenzie Holmes is trying to move on.
“At some point we have to let it go,” Holmes told The Daily Hoosier at media day. “We can’t forget how we felt, but we can kind of move past that game and that moment. Just knowing that we can learn from it, knowing that how we felt when that final buzzer sounded and that we don’t want to be in that position again next year, I think, are just the biggest things that are takeaways for us.”
The Hoosiers will have a real chance to put last season’s upset behind them. Head coach Teri Moren has a lot of talent to work with. And with most of the team back, the starting lineup will look pretty similar.
Holmes (22.3 points per game) returns for her fifth and final season after becoming the first Hoosier to be named a first team All-American. Parrish (12.0 ppg), senior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil (9.5 ppg), and sophomore guard/forward Yarden Garzon (11.1 ppg) also return to the starting lineup after strong seasons. And fifth-year senior guard Sara Scalia (9.5 ppg), who started for much of the first half of the season, should return to the lineup.
Part of what helped last year’s team improve from the year before was upgraded depth. This year’s roster is smaller, at just 12 players, but the depth remains solid. Sophomore forward Lilly Meister (2.4 ppg) and sophomore guard Lexus Bargesser (2.1 ppg) showed good development as true freshmen, and should be in bigger roles this year.
Sophomore UT Martin transfer forward Sharnecce Currie-Jelks was OVC freshman of the year last year. The program has a lot of faith in top-100 guards Jules LaMendola and Lenée Beaumont, and they could factor into the equation right away.
“The three that we brought in, those new kids are going to have to help us, and they’re going to have to grow up quicker than normal,” Moren said. “We usually say by the time that they return from Christmas break, you’re no longer freshmen. You’ve got to be wiser and you have to grow up faster. I think we’re going to need the three of them from the beginning right out of the gates to show up and give us really good minutes, and I think they’re capable of that.”
One of IU’s biggest challenges is replacing Grace Berger, who exhausted her eligibility last year. Berger is one of the top players in program history, and earned All-American honors in 2022. She spent part of last season nursing an injury, so the Hoosiers have experienced life without her — and they went 7-1 in that stretch.
But it’s not easy to replace someone who did as many different things well as Berger. And it’s not a role that one player can fill on their own.
“It’s going to take more than one person,” Holmes said. “There’s different parts of games that other people can contribute to. So I think it’s just going to be a matter of everyone stepping up a little bit more down the stretch.”
The Big Ten hasn’t gotten any softer. Iowa lost Monika Czinano, but with national player of the year Caitlin Clark back for another season, the Hawkeyes will be strong again. Maryland should be right in the mix as well, as usual. Ohio State, behind Big Ten freshman of the year Cotie McMahon, will be another tough opponent. Purdue has made tangible progress under Katie Gearlds. Illinois and Michigan should be solid as well. Other teams, like Nebraska or Michigan State, could emerge as challenging sleepers.
And Indiana has a challenging non-conference schedule, with a true road game at Stanford, and neutral site games against Tennessee and Princeton (which has won NCAA Tournament games each of the last two seasons, and nearly upset IU in 2022).
But Indiana’s roster, overall, can be as good as anyone else in the conference. The Hoosiers have a lot of talent, and pair it with a strong culture that has led them to the success they’ve had over the last several years.
“We still are who we are,” Moren said. “We’re the team that has always prided itself in its work ethic. We’re the team that will continue to play with a chip on its shoulder. We’re the team that kind of feels like we still have so much to achieve. That’s why we are who we are, is because we walk into whether it’s Cook Hall or Assembly Hall every day with this workmanlike attitude that we haven’t achieved anything yet. That’s what I love about our team and their mindset. They’re still — as we always say, there’s more work to be done.”
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